MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST
Volume IV, No. 17
April 30, 2002

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Contents of this issue:
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* Forums aimed at altering Proposal A continue
* Detroit school reforms may cost more than $100 million
* Grand Rapids may allow parents more school choices
* Court denies schools' claim to more special education funding
* Complaint accuses NEA of misusing political funds
* State budget cuts may eliminate programs for "at-risk" students
* Detroit school principals to receive budgeting mentors
* NOTICE: Michigan Education Digest archives available online!
* NOTICE: Free seminar for economics teachers
* NOTICE: Mock legislature summer program offered for teens
* NOTICE: Hoogland Center for Teacher Excellence Seminar

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FORUMS AIMED AT ALTERING PROPOSAL A CONTINUE
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LANSING, Mich. - Parents and educators who attended a public
forum sponsored by the state Wednesday said state legislators
need to rework Proposal A to allow schools to increase taxes when
they face financial difficulties.

The forums, taking place in several venues across the state, are
soliciting input for changes in Proposal A, the 1994 tax law that
established the current system of school funding in Michigan.

Proposal A drastically reduced property taxes and per-pupil
funding inequities between districts, while boosting K-12
education funding to record levels. But critics of the law cite
remaining funding inequities between districts as evidence that
the law needs to be revamped.

South Lyon school trustee Dan Reinders, representing supporters
of Proposal A, challenged the idea that all districts should be
equal and said schools should operate more efficiently to save
money.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Parents urge Proposal A revision," Apr. 25, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/25/d01-474144.htm

Detroit News, "Tax breaks shirk schools for $2 billion,"
Apr. 25, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/25/d06-474165.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Proposal A has pricey pitfall,"
Apr. 25, 2002
http://www.freep.com/realestate/renews/propa25_20020425.htm

Detroit Free Press, "A tale of two tax bills," Apr. 25, 2002
http://www.freep.com/realestate/renews/ptax25_20020425.htm

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Fix Michigan Schools with
Proposal A+," December 7, 2001
http://www.mackinac.org/article.asp?ID=3882


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DETROIT SCHOOL REFORMS MAY COST MORE THAN $100 MILLION
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DETROIT, Mich. - The Detroit Public Schools' 12-year plan to
improve test scores, graduation rates, and the quality of
education may cost more than $100 million.

In fact, district officials estimate that reducing class sizes
for kindergarten through third-grade students-just one of the
items in the plan-could cost the district $100 million alone.

District officials won't give a cost estimate for the entire
reform plan, but they hope much of the money will come from
federal grants through President Bush's No Child Left Behind
Act.

The plan's main goals are to post annual increases in the district's
4-year graduation rate-currently about 58 percent-and get
standardized scores to equal or surpass state averages by 2014.
On the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) test,
Detroit students currently trail the state average by 10 to 42
percent.
________
SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, "Big plan, big price: Detroit school reforms
tab could top $100 million," Apr. 25, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/skul25_20020425.htm

Detroit News, "Metro residents support Detroit school reforms,"
Apr. 29, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/29/a01-477241.htm

Detroit Free Press, "Detroit schools warn supervisors of
layoffs," Apr. 30, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/teach30_20020430.htm

Detroit News, "Oakland happiest with schools," Apr. 29, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/29/a05-477038.htm

Detroit News, "Speaking Out: Education," Apr. 29, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/29/a05-477037.htm

Detroit News, "Keep Detroit's school reform alive," Apr. 26, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0204/26/a11-474898.htm


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GRAND RAPIDS MAY ALLOW PARENTS MORE SCHOOL CHOICES
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Faced with a loss of about 1,000 students
for the second year in a row to charter schools and schools
outside the district, Grand Rapids Public Schools administrators
recently recommended opening internal school boundaries to allow
parents to send students to the school of their choice within the
district.

Under the plan, parents could apply to send their children to any
neighborhood school that has openings. Families would have to
provide transportation to the new school. An appeals process
would allow parents to protest if they believe their request was
unfairly rejected.

Backers of the plan believe the resulting competition between
schools will inspire improvements in educational quality. Some
schools, such as West Leonard Elementary, have already started
sending staffers and parents door-to-door to attract families.

"Parents need to feel like they can pick the best place for their
kids," board member David Bulkowski told the Grand Rapids Press.
"And that school might be across town where their cousins go, or
the school the parents attended or even the neighborhood school
across the street they weren't allowed to go to before."

The proposal will go to the school board for approval May 6.
________
SOURCES:
Grand Rapids Press, "Grand Rapids schools may expand choice
within district," Apr. 29, 2002
http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_
standard.xsl?/base/news-1/102009150089461.xml




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COURT DENIES SCHOOLS' CLAIM TO MORE SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDING
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DETROIT, Mich. - The state Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that
467 Michigan public school districts are not entitled to millions
of dollars in additional compensation from the state for
providing programs they're required by law to offer.

The districts will appeal the 2-1 decision to the state Supreme
Court, lead plaintiff Daniel Adair, president of the Warren
Fitzgerald school board, told The Detroit News.

Adair said the state is burdening schools by forcing them to add
programs without paying for them, resulting in a dilution of
quality education.

In an earlier suit over the same issue, the courts awarded 200
Michigan school districts $1 billion.
________
SOURCE:
Detroit News, "Court rejects schools' appeal," Apr. 25, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/25/d01-474146.htm


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COMPLAINT ACCUSES NEA OF MISUSING POLITICAL FUNDS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Education Association concealed
its use of millions of dollars in tax-exempt teachers' dues and
fees for political activities, primarily for Democratic
candidates and causes, according to a complaint filed recently by
the Landmark Legal Foundation.

In its complaint to the Labor Department, the Virginia-based
foundation claims the NEA - the country's largest labor union -
did not report to its 2.7 million members tax-exempt revenue it
spent to recruit and support candidates running for local, state
and federal elective office since at least 1994.

Most of the expenditures were coordinated with the Democratic
National Committee (DNC), Democratic Party campaign
organizations, the AFL-CIO and Emily's List, the nationwide
network of political donors helping to elect Democratic "pro-
choice" women, the complaint said.

"The NEA obviously doesn't want America's teachers, parents and
taxpayers to know how it is using tax-exempt membership dues and
fees," Mark Levin, the foundation's president, told the
Washington Times.

NEA officials called the complaint "completely baseless."
_______
SOURCE:
Washington Times, "Complaint accuses NEA of misusing funds to aid
DNC," Apr. 23, 2002
http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020423-317848.htm


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STATE BUDGET CUTS MAY ELIMINATE PROGRAMS FOR "AT-RISK" STUDENTS
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LANSING, Mich. - More than $100 million in programs for students
considered "at-risk" for violent behavior have been eliminated in
the state budget for next year, while funding for security
measures such as metal detectors has been protected, according to
a recent report in The Detroit News.

The News found most parents critical of the move. But a
spokesman for Gov. Engler said the administration saved the most
important component of the state's violence prevention program --
a half-day educational program for at-risk children.

No comprehensive studies have been done examining the effect of
metal detectors on school violence, associate professor
Christopher Maxwell, a criminologist at Michigan State
University, told the News. Similarly, conflict-resolution
programs are too new to know their long-range impact.

"Certainly putting metal detectors in all schools isn't
necessary," Maxwell said. And putting prevention programs in all
schools isn't always going to be effective. To do anything across
the board is a waste of resources."

"Schools need to look at their own problems," he said.
_______
SOURCES:
Detroit News, "Budget cuts threaten after-school activities,"
Apr. 30, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/30/a01-477615.htm

Detroit News, "Parents urge more rec programs," Apr. 30, 2002
http://www.detnews.com/2002/schools/0204/30/a06-477599.htm


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DETROIT SCHOOL PRINCIPALS TO RECEIVE BUDGETING MENTORS
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DETROIT, Mich. - Principals in the Detroit Public Schools, where
employees have had plenty of trouble managing money, will get
free budgeting tips from the business community for at least the
next 17 months, under a program announced Monday.

Volunteers from the Detroit Executive Service Corps, a nonprofit
group, will mentor 100 principals, continuing a program that
served 29 schools last year.

The announcement comes months after completion of audits of the
district's 270 schools, the first such financial accounting in
about 12 years. The audits showed about $305,000 in school money
missing and hundreds of thousands of dollars misspent and
misappropriated. After the audit, school officials turned over
the names of six employees, including two principals, to the
Wayne County prosecutor. Four bookkeepers were fired.

Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Burnley told the Detroit Free
Press the mentoring will make the district "more efficient and
more effective in...managing dollars at the school level."
_______
SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Detroit principals to get budget help," Apr.
30, 2002
http://www.freep.com/news/education/nskuls30_20020430.htm


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NOTICE: MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST ARCHIVES AVAILABLE ONLINE!
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A new web page gives Michigan Education Digest readers access to
the year's past issues. Readers can use a search engine indexed
according to topics, covering everything from special education
to Proposal A.

View the new site at:
http://www.educationreport.org/pubs/med/


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NOTICE: FREE SEMINAR FOR ECONOMICS TEACHERS
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The Foundation for Teaching Economics is sponsoring a free summer
seminar entitled "Economics for Leaders," July 15-21, on the
campus of Hillsdale College. The seminar is open to any teacher
of economics and is especially suited for teachers of social
studies, civics and history.

Free room and board is provided on the campus of Hillsdale
College. All participants receive a $100.00 stipend upon
completion of the program. Program graduates are eligible to
submit a portfolio on teaching economics to the Foundation. The
best portfolio receives a prize of $5,000.00. Two semester credit
hours will be awarded by the University of California-Davis for a
fee of $85.00.

Three Michigan State Board Continuing Education Units (SB-CEUs) of
academic credit are available free of charge to Michigan public
school teachers who take the seminar.

For more information and to register, visit the Foundation's web
site at www.fte.org, or call (800) 383-4335.


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NOTICE: MOCK LEGISLATURE SUMMER PROGRAM OFFERED FOR TEENS
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The 2002 Student Statesmanship Institute (SSI) is a dynamic,
faith-based summer program for high school teens. The SSI
curriculum includes Biblical worldview teaching, testimonies from
outstanding Christian leaders, and a true-to-life Mock
Legislature where students apply what they learn to current
issues while role-playing as members of the Legislature at the
Capitol building in Lansing.

Students interested in the program can attend during the weeks of
June 23-28 or July 7-12.

For more information or to register students for SSI's Summer
Program, contact the Student Statesmanship Institute toll free at
(877) 464-6388, by email at ssi@ssi-online.org, or visit the
website at www.ssi-online.org.


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NOTICE: HOOGLAND CENTER FOR TEACHER EXCELLENCE SEMINAR
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The Hoogland Center for Teacher Excellence at Hillsdale College
is sponsoring a seminar on "Teaching the Declaration of
Independence: Are These Truths Self-Evident Today?" May 17-18,
2002, on the campus of Hillsdale College.

Open to public, private and home-school middle and high school
teachers of civics, social studies and history, the seminar is
free of charge to all who mention the Mackinac Center for Public
Policy. This includes accommodations at the on-campus hotel, all
meals, and seminar and curriculum materials.

Participants at the seminar will explore the principles of the
Declaration in lectures and small group discussions led by
Hillsdale College faculty. Hillsdale College academic credit or
one Michigan State Board - Continuing Education Unit (SB-CEU) of
academic credit can be earned by taking the seminar.

For more information and to register, visit
www.hillsdale.edu/cte, or call (866) 824-6831.



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Contact Managing Editor Elizabeth H. Moser at
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